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Before the Liberty Bowl Series descends on Fairfield University on November 18th, it was a dual battle of the unbeaten at the top ranks of the conference. Based on the records, both games were expected to be close but ended in blowouts. I-95 Division’s Iona dispatched the Empire leader, Cortland, 57-18, and Northeastern dominated UConn, 53-5, to win the New England divsion. In the remaining games, UMass, Rhode Island, and Fordham each picked up wins.
Cortland at Iona
With each squad having the open date, Iona and Cortland gathered in New Rochelle, N.Y. for an unofficial divisional playoff. The Gaels have stormed through the Liberty this fall while Cortland has been the surprise. On Saturday, the Wolfpack’s upstart season got a reality check when Iona ripped off nine tries to two in a 57-18 victory.
Despite the high offensive output, Iona head coach Bruce McLane emphasized that it was his team’s defense that stepped up. “[Cortland] was really tough, they hit hard, they run hard, was a challenge... We did a lot of great things. Cortland is big and physical so winning the hit battle was satisfying. We didn’t let up the second try until injury time so that was good.”
Wing LaVar James led the Gaels’ try parade with four followed by Colby Marshall, Mike Marro, Nandipha Dube, John Powers, and Tyler Ringwood with one each. Fullback Bryce Stanback ended the day going six for nine on conversions. In the loss, Harrison Conn and Cody Casagrande each scored for Cortland and Mike Dotzler connected on two penalties and a conversion.
Cortland will play in the bowl series later this month, but Iona will travel cross-country to challenge itself against one of the best teams in the nation. St. Mary’s is up next for the Gaels in California on the 18th and McLane will have his men ready. “We just need to get healthy and get fit mentally. We can't really worry about St. Mary’s, we just need to focus on us.”
UConn at Northeastern
With the New England divisional championship at stake, Northeastern dominated fellow unbeaten UConn, 53-5, in Boston, Mass. The Mad Dogs of NU blanked the Huskies in the first half then outscored UConn 38-5 in the second half.
“Discipline was the main factor in today's win,” NU head coach Ed Tubridy said. “It was a focal point in our preparation throughout the week as we knew that UConn was a very good team and are very capable of scoring on turnovers and penalties. We executed our game plan extremely well today and were able to keep ourselves on the front foot throughout the game.”
Alex Tiarks and David de Luzuriaga each scored a pair of tries and Nolan Currie, Benjamin Keebaugh, Deni Makhauri, Ronan Jones, and James O'Shea dotted down one apiece for the Mad Dogs. de Luzuriaga and Darren Chan combined for four conversions. Joe Phillips scored the lone UConn try.
Northeastern has one more game against Colgate before the bowl series. “For the last game, I would like to see the decision making amongst the boys to continue growing,” Tubridy concluded. “This last game will also be an opportunity for the guys to test themselves against other teams outside of our division.”
Tufts at UMass
The physicality of UMass beat a banged up Tufts squad in Amherst, Mass., 52-21. In their second win of the season, the Minutemen’s Mike Ruther, David Buchanan (2), Thomas Randolph, Timmy O’Connor, Ben Sawyer, Chris Troiano, and Denis McAuliffe each scored with Buchanan added six conversions.
“We were able to move the ball very well, our captain and flyhalf, David Buchanan, had an amazing game scoring 22 points on his own,” UMass head coach Phil Ciccarelli said. “Again, staying healthy and being able to start the game with the full compliment really makes a difference.”
Colgate at Fordham
Fordham improved to 5-1 with a 55-12 win over Colgate in the Bronx, N.Y. on Friday night. Head coach Sean McCarthy had the Rams ready to play saying “Fordham played our game for 80 minutes.”
The Rams cracked Colgate for nine tries as Fermin Moraiz, Paul Maloney (3), Jared Smallwood, Maxim Zhitnik (2), Parker Lynch, and Vincent Brucculeri scored. Inside center Finlay Froggatt nailed five conversions in the win.
Fordham ends its season at home on Saturday versus Rhode Island.
Stony Brook at Rhode Island
Rhode Island broke its three-game losing streak with a 51-12 blasting of Stony Brook for its second win of the season. The Rams’ outside center Clayton Minnich had a banner day with a hat trick in his first start and Jack Kelly (2), Tyler Inkley, Killian Easton, Adam Nabb and Ryan Diogo also scored.
Rhode Island excelled on both side of the ball in the victory and head coach Warren Boothman was pleased with his men playing as a team. “Defensively, the forwards established a significant advantage early on, and we rode that pressure all day. Offensively, we worked harder at finding support and not wasting our opportunities.”